US Secretary of Commerce cited for felony hit-and-run car accidents (+video)

John Bryson, US Secretary of Commerce, was involved in two auto accidents Saturday in Southern California, according to authorities. Bryson was taken to a local hospital for treatment and later released.

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    President Barack Obama shakes hands with US Commerce Secretary John Bryson at the White House in Washington in this file photo from when Bryson took office. Now, the Commerce Secretary is taking a leave of absence.
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U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson was cited for felony hit-and-run following two Los Angeles-area traffic crashes that left him injured and unconscious, police said Monday.

Bryson suffered a seizure, the US Commerce Department said in a statement released Monday.

Bryson, 68, was treated at a hospital following the crashes around 5 p.m. PDT Saturday, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's department and the San Gabriel Police Department said in a joint statement.

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"Secretary Bryson was involved in a traffic accident over the weekend," the Commerce Department said Monday. "He was taken to the hospital for examination and has been released. He has sustained no injuries and the investigation is ongoing."

Bryson, 68, was treated at a hospital for injuries following the crashes around 5 p.m. PDT Saturday, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's department and the San Gabriel Police Department said in a joint statement.

"Secretary Bryson was involved in a traffic accident over the weekend," the Commerce Department said Monday. "He was taken to the hospital for examination and has been released. He has sustained no injuries and the investigation is ongoing."

Bryson is facing felony hit-and-run charges, San Gabriel Police spokesman Lt. Ariel Duran said.

The secretary was driving alone in a Lexus on a major street in San Gabriel when he allegedly struck the rear end of a vehicle occupied by three males that had been stopped for a passing train.

He spoke briefly with the occupants and then hit their car again as he departed, the officials said. The three followed him while calling police.

"We did cite him for felony hit-and-run," Duran said. "Later the case (will be) submitted to the DA's office which will make a determination on what they are going to charge him with."

Bryson then allegedly caused a second collision minutes later, also on San Gabriel Boulevard, in the nearby city of Rosemead, striking a car occupied by a man and a woman, the police agencies said.

Bryson was found alone and unconscious in his car and was treated at the scene before being taken to a hospital.

There was no immediate indication that alcohol or drugs played a role in the collisions, the agencies said. And Duran said authorities don't know if Bryon had a prior medical condition.

"When the first officer rolled up on the scene, he was behind his wheel unconscious," Duran said. "But our officer did speak with him at the hospital."

David Axelrod, senior adviser to President Obama, said on CBS's "This Morning" that he doesn't have any details.

"This news broke overnight so I don't have anything to contribute to that. Obviously it's concerning, but I'm not going to comment because I don't know any of the details," he said.

Sheriff's deputy Tony Moore declined to provide any other information, including the name of the hospital.

Two people in the first collision were treated by paramedics after complaining of pain, the officials said. The couple involved in the second crash also complained of pain but declined medical aid.

Damage to the vehicles was minor.

San Gabriel is located just northeast of Los Angeles.

Obama swore in the former utility executive as the head the Commerce Department in October, after easily overcoming conservatives' objections that his pro-environmental views made him unsuited for the job.

As secretary, Bryson has played a role as a member of the president's economic team and has worked to promote job creation. He has also advised on energy issues, particularly in the clean energy sector.

Bryson is the former head of Edison International, the holding company that owns Southern California Edison. Bryson has also served on boards of major corporations including the Boeing Co. and the Walt Disney Co.

He helped oversee Edison's transformation into a leading wind and solar company and launched a plan to turn 65 million square feet of unused commercial rooftops into solar power stations with enough electricity for more than 160,000 homes.

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